The work of The Peace Centre is founded on the progressive principles of feminism acknowledging that the feminist movement has been in existence for long.
The Peace Centre subscribes and its work is guided by the Charter of Feminist Principles for African Feminists which ring true to the work of amplifying women voices; and belief that anyone labelled as a second-class citizen must be protected without labelling.
South Sudan assented to the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 2250 highlighting the important role of young women in promoting peace and security. The 2015-2020 National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 and Related Resolutions also represents this commitment to i) increase women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, the maintenance of peace and security, and guaranteeing their participation in post-conflict peacebuilding, ii) enable peace and security stakeholders in South Sudan to galvanise their efforts and ensure improved implementation of gender-sensitive peace and security-focused initiatives at national and state levels and iii) ensuring the inclusion of women and girls’ needs in the national budgetary priorities of the transitional assistance plans developed by the Government and all programmes funded by development partners, including in the negotiations of the New Compact Deal. The government of South Sudan, through the national steering committee as well as inter-ministerial committee charged with monitoring implementation progress, has invited diverse stakeholders to contribute to the implementation of the plan or to strengthening the local capacities for the implementation.
Despite the existence of these commitments, frameworks and mechanisms, there are insufficient attempts to promote young women’s participation in peace processes, to amplify their voices or to influence in favour of their specific priorities. Since the outbreak of armed conflict in December 2013, the resurgence in July 2016 and with on-going efforts to resolve conflicts and to reconstruct, young women’s critical role in formal peacebuilding and conflict resolution has been under-explored despite their informal contributions. The Women’s International Peace Centre is partnering with the Centre of Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) to strengthen young women’s capacity to participate in and influence peace processes and their outcomes from a gender perspective in South Sudan. In the framework of this partnership, the WIPC brought together 20 young women aged 18 to 35 from political parties and civil society organisations for a 5-day training. The focus of the training was to equip young women in South Sudan for information gathering, data verification and gendered analysis of conflict trends, dynamics and their significance for on-going peace processes. The training also built their understanding of relevant national, regional and international policy frameworks, of on-going national peace processes, national and regional mechanisms as well as key women, peace and security thematic areas. This workshop aimed at building capacity for advocacy and collective action while enabling the creation of new spaces for them to engage key decision-makers at the national level. Additionally, it provided a space for intergenerational dialogue with older women peacebuilders and leaders for cross-learning and potential mentorship.
The end of this decade presents a strategic opportunity for women’s rights advocates working towards the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in the Great Lakes Region to collectively reflect, look ahead, and prepare to take fruitful action. In 2020, the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020) by the African Union comes to an end. The same year marks 25 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The year 2020 will also be the 20th anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Within the Great Lakes Region, women’s rights organisations have been monitoring progress and advocating for the implementation of diverse regional and national instruments. While there has been some progress, a significant implementation gap remains and the WPS agenda is yet to be achieved.
It is in this context that Global Fund for Women and the Women’s International Peace Centre co-created a space for regional exchange for three days. From the 12th to the 14th November, 48 women human rights activists and organizations from Burundi, CAR, DRC, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda came to Kampala to convene on peacebuilding, ending sexual and gender-based violence, and combatting the negative impact of the extractive industry on peace and women’s rights. Together, they assessed the progress and gaps in the WPS agenda in the region and defined a creative common vision and agenda for feminist peacebuilding.
The overall objective of the convening was to engage in key conversations and exchanges around how to strengthen our collective capacity to promote women’s leadership in peacebuilding and reconstruction, address sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, and address the impact of the mining and extractive industry on women and girls’ rights and lasting peace in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
On the first day, an opening session with keynotes on women, peace and security in the Great Lakes Region kicked off the convening. It was followed by a lively discussion. Hereafter, representatives of key regional mechanisms such at the ICGLR Regional Training Facility and Women’s Forum, the African Union FemWise-African Network of Women Mediators and women mediators’ networks in Burundi shared about their work and gave participants the opportunity to ask questions. The day was rounded off by plenary sessions on good practices and strategies in regional advocacy and action as well as about feminist peacebuilding strategies.
The second day started off with three thematic panels. Civil society actors discussed and presented on progress, best practices and lessons learnt on the topics of women’s leadership in peacebuilding, sexual and gender-based violence, and women’s access to and control of natural resources and the impact of the mining and extractive industry on women and girls’ rights and regional peace. The division in break-out groups gave the practitioners the reflective space to assess what has worked and what has not and identify key areas for collective action and advocacy. The day ended with a plenary discussion on emerging security threats and implications for work in the field of women, peace and security and a talk on wellness, self-care, safety and integrated security for women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders.
The final day of the convening was dedicated to defining a common vision and collective action to advance the WPS Agenda in the Great Lakes Region in 2020 and beyond. Therefore, the participants first discussed key action points in-country groups before presenting their findings to the plenary. They talked about their vision for women in peace and security for the upcoming decade, in which ways the existing instruments could help to promote this vision and which kind of change they would like to see for African women in the area of peace and security. The outcome was a collective roadmap defining windows of opportunity for the WPS Agenda beyond 2020.
On the 26th to 27th September, Women’s International Peace Centre, in partnership with Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) and Eve Organization for Women Development convened a two days Think Tank under the theme; “Reclaiming our Space; Women influencing Multiparty Democracy” for Women in Political leadership to reflect on strategies of enhancing the influence and strategic participation of women in multi-party political dispensation and national development. The Think Tank brought together 15 women politicians from 5 political parties, Ministry of Gender, and CSOs.
In August 2015, following almost 2years of on-and-off peace negotiations mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), parties to the conflict and other stakeholders signed the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The agreement provided for the formation of a Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) and for national elections after two and a half years. It also envisaged broad security sector reform, transitional justice, and a constitutional development process. In December 2017, the High Level Revitalisation Forum commenced resulting in the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) in December 2017, the Declaration of Principles in February 2018, the Khartoum Declaration Agreement (KDA) in June 2018 and the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) on the 12 September in Khartoum, Sudan. In all these processes, women played key roles as mobilisers, advocates, mediators and negotiators. Organized under the auspices of the South Sudan Women’s Coalition, women pushed for inclusivity and secured space for the technical team to access the negotiation venues in Addis Ababa and Khartoum. They also influenced the peace agreement to Include a provision to have at least 35% affirmative action /women representation in all committees and for the implementation of the agreement and at all levels of decision making.
Our Key objective was to strengthen debate on women’s participation and influence in
Protecting women’s space in politics is especially important in the conflict resolution area. Despite women’s longstanding role in informal dispute resolution, their near absence from peace talks and similar international security processes & mechanisms requires particular attention.
As one of the leading actors on Women, Peace and Security, Women’s International Peace Centre prioritises strengthening and re-igniting women’s leadership potential to build peace because women and girls bear the burden of armed conflict and war. The periods of transition from conflict to peace offer opportunities for women to participate in the rebuilding and reshaping of societies. However, to enable women maintain the momentum required in the different spaces of engagement, they require specialized skills and a support network. The 2019 5-day WIPC Leadership Institute focused on 20 vibrant women leaders from South Sudan, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) including refugee women leaders living in Uganda. These countries assented to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and have developed National Action Plans for its implementation.
The training focused on three modules; Feminism, Peace and Security, understanding peace building processes and personal wellness and selfcare.
1. Feminism, Peace and Security facilitated by Dr. Tabitha Mulyampiti focused on the gender and feminist analysis of conflict and peace building and introduced feminist conflict analysis tools that enabled the participants to apply feminist principles to particular conflict situations at personal, community and government levels. Participants were introduced to ‘gender’ as an integral concept that shapes the understanding of peace/war making connections between gender, conflict, peace and security. Participants reflected on their experiences of being gendered as women and how this has shaped their experiences of ‘peace’/safety/security.
2. Understanding Peace Building Processes; This module was facilitated by Helen Kezie-Nwoha who introduced participants to informal peace processes, advocacy providing participants with skills to engage and influence peace processes at national, regional, and global level.
3. Personal Wellness and Self-care
Leadership in contexts of conflict and peace negotiation processes is often challenging and can result to burnout and fatigue. During the training, It was important that these vibrant women understand that their passion for peacebuilding, Leadership and activism should not be at the expense of their personal health and fun. Sessions of Wellness and Self Care were practiced throughout the training. Our wellness facilitator Solome Nakaweesi provided Participants with simple tools they can use for their own self-care such as wellness journaling. A beautiful and strong web of sisterhood was weaved during the 5 days
After the 5 days training, participants developed action plans that they would implement in their home countries.Our role is to ensure that women are at the center and the provisions of the agreement and the mandated structures work towards the desired peace in South Sudan, DRC, Burundi and Uganda
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Women’s International Peace Centre hosted a side event on 15th March 2019 on Gender Responsive Social Protection in conflict affected settings focused on feminist peace and social protection for women affected by conflict the margins of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) speaking to the priority theme: Social Protection Systems, Access to Public Services and Sustainable Infrastructure for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls.
Women leaders from Liberia, Nepal and Uganda shared research findings, lived experiences of women and lessons from programming in post-conflict settings to shed light on the needs and expectations of women and girls affected by conflict in relation to recovering from shocks, building resilience, accessing inclusive gender-responsive public services and true social protection.
The discussion focused on the findings of the study by The Centre/Tilburg, Makerere and Mbarara Universities on the Cost-Benefit of Social Protection Schemes such as cash transfer programmes and post trauma services for the empowerment of women in post-conflict Northern Uganda. The findings were reflected on using the realities in post-conflict, post- Liberia Ebola crisis with specific cases demonstrating the scale of trauma and its impact on the success of cash programmes for women (shared by My Voice My Safety/Ministry of Gender, Liberia) and the challenges of women’s rights and peace building in Nepal, in the absence of knowledge on the centrality of holistic trauma relief (by National Association of Women Human Rights Defenders (NAWHRD) Nepal) with closing reflections from Cordaid Women Peace and Security Advisor.
We also organized a joint event on improving social protection outcomes for conflict-affected and grassroots women with Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS), Action Aid and the Office of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security hosted by the AU Permanent Mission to the UN on 15th March 2019.
The University of Wisconsin – Madison in partnership with African researchers, Isis Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) and Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) are conducting a research project that looks at the cost of women’s exclusion and the possibilities for their inclusion in peace processes, peacebuilding, and politics in countries affected by war in Africa. The research project also examines the struggle for women’s rights, legal reform and political representation as one important arena for stemming the tide of extremism related to violence in Africa. Lessons from these experiences have policy implications for ongoing conflicts elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East. The research consortium is based at three research centers in the United States of America (US), Norway and Uganda, including nine experienced researchers. The research is being carried out in Somalia, Algeria, Northern Nigeria, South Sudan and Sudan. The three themes of the research include:
- Inclusion and Exclusion in Post-Conflict Governance (Somalia and Algeria),
- Women Activists’ Informal Peacebuilding Strategies (South Sudan and Northern Nigeria)
- Women’s Legal Rights as a Site of Contestation in North Africa (Sudan and Algeria).
Conflict in Africa has changed in nature and has become more intractable as the causes and solutions are more complex. Today, conflicts manifest further through activities of terrorist groups and election violence. The rise, for example, of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabaab in Somalia, Ansar Dine in Mali, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQUIM) in Algeria and Mali, Movement for Monotheism and Jihad in West Africa in Mali (MUJAO), and other Islamic groups influenced by Salafism and other conservative ideologies, is posing new challenges to these societies. Women often find themselves at the front lines of war, not only as victims but also as prime opponents of some of the more extremist trends in affected countries.
The research is being conducted in five countries in Africa that have experienced or are currently experiencing conflict, to examine the role women have played in peacebuilding at the formal and informal levels and also look at the gains of inclusion and costs of their exclusion. The findings will be composed into case studies and overall comparative findings and a book along with other publications and policy briefs. The project will also hold international conferences and a meeting between women activists and stakeholders in participating countries.
The conference convened a consortium of researchers and women activists working on peace building initiatives in Africa; it also involved those who informed the research. The team of women activists and peace builders joined together in sisterhood to learn from each other what has worked in promoting peace and what gaps remain. Uganda was selected to host the conference because of the country’s long experience in conflict and currently hosting over a million refugees from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Rwanda. Despite the silence of guns, Uganda itself is not yet at peace. The conference centered on the following objectives; Facilitate dialogue and learning around women’s participation and role in Peace building. Provide a platform for cross cultural exchange and learning amongst women peace builders in Africa.
This edition of Women’s World presents an analysis of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Indicating that while significant progress has been made and milestones achieved, the gaps in the implementation of the Platform is obvious as no country in the world has achieved gender equality.